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The 1980s were a tough period for the golden age of adult films.
More and more movies were being made on video, with less care and much less money, and AIDS was becoming a major issue in society.
To make matters worse, President Reagan ordered a comprehensive, and comprehensively biased, investigation into pornography. The so-called Meese Report was published in July 1986 and contained 1,960 pages. It concluded, controversially, that the content of adult films contributed significantly – both to sexual violence and to societal discrimination against women.
So who was behind what was being shown in the movies? Who was writing the scripts that portrayed all manner of perversity?
From the mid 1980s onwards, hundreds of the movies were written by someone called ‘Raven Touchstone’. This person wrote many of the biggest films, featuring the stars of the day such as Ginger Lynn, Barbara Dare, Traci Lords, and Christy Canyon. Films like Blame It On Ginger, Nothing To Hide: Justine, and Skin Hunger. They were so prolific that it seemed impossible that all these scripts could come from just one person.
Who was Raven Touchstone? And what kind of life had they led that enabled them to write so much from their fevered imagination?
It turns out that Raven Touchstone was just one person. And she was a middle-aged, Jewish woman from a sheltered upbringing in the mid-west.
So how did she come to be the grand-dame of adult film scriptwriting? How did she get started and how does she remember working with all of the big names in the industry?
On this episode of The Rialto Report, we start with the legendary adult film actor and director, Paul Thomas, whom Raven wrote some of her best work for.
Then April Hall speaks to Raven Touchstone herself to look back on her unlikely life and career in Raven’s first detailed audio interview.
This episode’s running time is 83 minutes.
Penny Antine (aka Raven Touchstone) in Caprice (1967) (with Doris Day and Richard Harris)
Raven Touchstone and Ron Sullivan at the 1989 XRCO Awards
Raven Touchstone and friend in 1990
Alexandra Silk, Raven Touchstone, Kelly Nichols and Keisha
Raven Touchstone, Annie Sprinkle and Veronica Hart
Raven Touchstone, Veronica Hart and Georgina Spelvin
Paul Thomas and April Hall
The writer – finally inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame in 2016
Well that’s my afternoon taken care of…… I’m off to listen to this straight away.
i’m pleased to see that the rialto report does not confine itself to the performers but also features people like the writers. this promises to be another entertaining report.
Raven/Penny is a gem of a person. I’m pleased that her story is being included in this pantheon of great characters.
Any chance of an interview with Keisha who I see in the picture above – and who still looks amazing?
We’re in conversation with Keisha Andy – and yes she still does look amazing!
Yes X 10! Keisha is the greatest.
Met her when she came up here to Vancouver on the dance circuit in the late ’80’s. Very charming person. Also caught Amber Lynn and l’il Stephanie Rage around the same time.
Great to hear PT’s laid back tones. You MUST have interviewed him for an upcoming podcast, no?
His story is loooooong overdue here.
This is so great to see. Raven/Penny is a wonderful personal friend and its so great that you’re interviewing her!!
Listening to this at the moment and Penny comes across as a complete doll.
Listening to this makes me wonder why no one ever made sitcom about her life… It has all the ingredients.
Great idea Merle!
Thank you for this. I adore Penny/Raven.
So do we!
I’d love to see something on Tracey Adams, Trinity Loren and or Keisha! Make it happen…
Thanks and keep up the good work…
Well. well well…April Hall delivers us, in deep focus, a touching look into Raven Touchstone, a one of a kind creator of smartly delivered and interesting adult material for decades. Thank you April for this very special look at this multi faceted woman.
Thank you Roy. And most importantly, then you to Raven!
Exquisite little slice of American film history.
What makes this archival project most unique is that it almost completely ignores the actual films and concentrates on the people. (Even when films are covered, like the recent ‘Defiance’ feature or the astonishing ‘Centurians’ piece, it is the personal stories that are the focus and not the film plots). This is an intelligent perspective and provides something that countless review sites ignore: that is, that the films are secondary in importance to the overall movement, the social change, the legal progress, and the wonderful intimate personal journeys that make up the history of the adult film industry.
Well done to the people of the Rialto Report for realizing this – and for providing such a consistently entertaining and intelligent place to visit.
Thanks so much for the comment Anon – you’ve perfectly summed up what we aim to do here at The Rialto Report!
Penny – this was a great listen. What an interesting life. Thanks for opening up and sharing.
Hope the next stage of your life is equally rewarding.
Not sure if true, but I understand some ’80’s sitcom writers made extra cash with X-video “scripts” – presumably the ones that are intentionally funny. 😉
I’ve found that some of the most interesting episodes center around people that I know nothing or very little about. Prior to today I hadn’t even heard of Raven Touchstone (I’m not too familiar with the VHS era & onward minus Dark Bros. pictures). Brilliant listen thus far. RR continues to deliver.
Thank you Bondurant!
Wow. What an Institution and creative force Raven Touchstone is. Knew the name by the great movies she wrote. Never knew her background. Thank you so much April Hall. Makes me want to be better in Everything now.
Maybe one of the coolest women like…ever? So happy – so centered – so authentic.
April just rocks it and asks every question I would. Maybe I’d be a little more gossipy. Names! I want names!
Just a great listen – as always.
Isn’t Raven amazing? Thank you DC!
Great stuff as always. The stories of these performers, these writers, these creative forces, capture a time and place that no longer exists, as Penny/Raven herself says. And adult movies are only the worse for it.
The last moments were perhaps the most telling and having seen Penny in the documentary “X-Rated,” discussing “Justine,” it becomes painfully aware why. Pardon me if I go off on a tangent, but the worst thing about that documentary are the commentaries by the present-day porn stars. With the possible exception of Stoya and writer-director Jacky St. James, the new breed comes off like little dipwads. It’s up to the Ravens, the Herschels, the Georginas, the Paul Thomases, and so on do the heavy lifting…and thankfully, they do.
What I like about golden age porn is that at least there was the attempt to make something that resembled a real movie. I find it interesting, and pretty much without knowing it until recently, that the few semi-modern titles I’ve gravitated to, such as “Justine” and “The Masseuse, ” have Raven’s imprint on them. I appreciate you telling her story, which I somewhat knew from reading Jill Nelson’s “Golden Goddesses,” and I appreciate her for her contribution to story-driven adult film. I hope Penny/Raven enjoys her retirement; she’s left quite the legacy.
Oops, my mistake. When “The Masseuse” was mentioned, I thought it referred to the 1990 or 2004 version. It did not as Raven is listed in IMDB as the writer for the 2011 version. The one I haven’t seen.
Riveting! There are so many similarities to the writing process when I wrote for PT in the 1990s. I thank Raven for paving the way. I also shared the writing bill with Raven (and Gloria Leonard) on “Slow Dancing,” which was an honor.
We love that you drew the connection between your work and Raven’s. Two great writers!
A holy moment listening to Penny/Raven. Hope to hear the entire Paul Thomas story on Rialto Report soon.
Keep up the tremendous good work!
Thank you Stefan!
Thanks to Raven and to April.
Another personal story from the golden age is preserved via the rialto report.
Goose bumps in the end. Keep them coming. Please.
What will be podcast # 100 about 😉
Greetings from Hamburg Germany.
What’s your vote for podcast #100?!
I’ve listened to maybe 90% of the RR podcasts and this one is easily my favorite. Interviews of performers tend to follow an understandable but somewhat predictable path, which is often filled with biographical details that may be noteworthy but are more often fairly pedestrian.
But in this interview, we begin to see the underpinnings. How are the scripts written, what drives the writer to express their ideas in one way or another? These are really interesting topics. I love that Raven’s a feminist! Or at least she seemed so to me. It’s also fascinating to consider how her writing made its mark on those of us who saw the films she’d written.
She mentioned Justine, and it’s a great example. Sure, Roxanne Blaze is incredibly sexy. But it’s her acting ability combined with an evocative script that really burnt its way into my consciousness. I’ve seen other performances of hers, they were still OK, but without the backstory, there’s no tension, and no passion.
As a porn consumer, I think golden age porn has set my expectations pretty high. Wall to wall sex films just look like footage from the zoo, and as she said, most attempts at acting are just that: attempts. Without a script, even simple porn ideas like “massage” have this bizarre void right between rubbing someone’s back with oil and fucking them. Wait, isn’t this rape? Did she consent to you sticking your finger inside her? Shouldn’t we at least hear two lines of dialogue to help the viewer get from the consumer experience to the sexual experience?
But I digress. Thanks for an informative, well edited, and well constructed interview. I really enjoyed it.
Thanks for listening and for the thoughtful comments Brad!
Thanks for another informative and intriguing podcast!
Thank you Corey!
Really good Podcast, Raven. Where were you when I needed a good writer? It’s too bad that Fate didn’t cross our paths earlier because we share the same concepts of sensuality. I was in the Couple’s Market, too, and would have loved to team up. Now I’m retired and you’re writing a book. But, we had our Days of Glory, didn’t we… Best of Luck on your book.
Damn! I meant to call her Penny since we are all in the same family. Thank you also, April for a touching and informative Podcast
I am so proud to call her my friend.
What a podcast, I wish I had started listening to these sooner. In my youth if you saw the words written by Raven Touchstone you knew you had gold no matter who the stars were. Thank you.